Follow the money: Why messaging is disrupting payments

There is a new holy grail in Messaging that all platforms want to conquer: payments.


Messaging is a „winner takes all“ business.

Nobody wants to have three apps to communicate with friends and family. If your peers are using one platform, you are likely to follow – a classic network effect.

That’s why in every country the most used messaging platform is leading the messaging field by a large. In most countries that is WhatsApp, Messenger comes second.

All big messaging companies are now on a mission to claim a new territory: payments.

Three simple drivers:

1)  The opportunity:

  • One of the main characters of currency is that it is used by everybody and easy to handle. Messaging apps are used by nearly everybody to send and receive information – so why not extend it to money?


2) WeChat paved the way

  • One of the main drivers behind WeChat’s success in China is payments
  • Today WeChat is already where all other messaging companies strive to be. They dominate P2P transactions, business to consumer and even offline payments by using QR codes. WeChat pay is everywhere and basically replacing peoples wallets completely.  
  • On last year’s Chinese new year 46 billion “ virtual red envelopes” (it’s a Chinese tradition to send money in this red envelopes) were sent via WeChat.


3) The Amazon effect:

  • Once a platform has a user’s credit card details and set up a convenient payment method, it is the starting point of rolling out many more services around commerce and content. he value of every new user acquired skyrockets and so does the platform’s.


Here are a few facts on how the space is evolving right now

Kakao Talk

  • Messaging app Kakao Talk (42 mio user) launched Kakao Bank as a separate app and corporation but using the network effect of Kakao Talk.
  • On its launch day 300k users signed up and over 50 Mio € were put in deposits.


  • WhatsApp rolled out their beta-payment feature to around one million users in India this month.


  • ApplePay is a success story most people tend to overlook. Launched in October 2014 it’s now accepted in 50% of all shops in the US. According to ApplePay’s VP Jennifer Bailey,  “It’s the world’s most accepted contactless payment technology.“
  • In November 2017 Apple soft-launched P2P money transfers to iMessage in the US


  • The VP of Messenger at Facebook is David Marcus, a former president of Paypal. That underlines their ambitions pretty clearly.
  • Messenger already launched the possibility to send and receive money from your Facebook friends in 2015 in the US and in the UK and France last year.
  • Despite the early launch, the Messenger team worked on anything but pushing their payment feature. In that new environment and their quickly growing business platform, (chatbots) that might change quickly.


The biggest problem for any platform

Every payment solution needs to eliminate the threshold that is needed before users feel confident to enter their credit card data.

It is not surprising that Snapchat’s Snapcash did not succeed with a user interface where everything you send or receive disappears after seconds.
Such an environment is designed to create more privacy for shared content, but not more trust for transactions. Table stack for transactions is security, reliability and transparency for the sending and receiving party.

iMessage and ApplePay are very well positioned to become the digital wallet of iOs users and to disrupt payments in the next few years.

Facebook with it’s two messaging platforms WhatsApp and Messenger still has two big advantages against iMessage. First, it’s running on iOs and Android. That more than doubles the market and strengthens the network because Apple users can transfer money to Android users. Second, they have two different platforms to figure out what works best. Facebook is very well known for testing and learning fast.

The marketer’s cheat sheet to Facebook’s latest newsfeed change

Facebook announced major changes to it’s most central product, the Newsfeed, on the 11th of January. Facebook will begin prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content and posts from brands.

What change?

Facebook announced major changes to it’s most central product, the Newsfeed, on the 11th of January. Facebook will begin prioritizing posts from friends and family over public content and posts from brands.

Why it matters?

Brands have spent millions in the past years to build an audience on social media. These dollars won’t pay off. The organic reach on social media is finally moving toward zero.

Why the change?

  • Be smart: that change is not about the fight against fake news or propaganda: it’s a product change.
  • Facebook knows that even the best curated news app is not as sticky as the social network is. Especially younger audiences are already spending a lot of time with Facebook competitors such as Snapchat, Youtube, WeChat and others. To compete with them, Facebook is going back to their roots.
  • The focus on meaningful interactions is the metric Facebook uses to try and stay the most relevant app on our phone for the next years .

Was this unexpected?

  • The honest answer is: No. Brands saw a decline in their organic reach for years. The latest benchmarks were between 1% and 5% of organic reach per public post. Facebook is an advertising business so it was clear that this won’t change for good.
  • Publisher have been seeing a rapid decline in organic reach since June. In addition, recent experiments with a completely new kind of feed indicated there was something more to come.

What about Instagram?

  • Instagram has a different feed algorithm than Facebook so it won’t be affected.
  • Be smart: Instagram already has the approach Facebook is now taking.

„All the data supports that if you follow more friends and engage with your friends, your activity goes through the roof. If you just follow more celebrity content or more interest-based content, that doesn’t move the needle at all.“

Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder



What about Messenger & bots?

Messenger and bots are one of the big winners. Today already more than 200k public pages on Facebook are connected with a bot to the Facebook Messenger Platform. That is likely to increase even more rapidly in the next months. Here is why:

  • Using that channel brands don’t rely on the newsfeed and can rather shoot a message directly.
  • The conversational approach of bots is now the best way to facilitate the meaningful conversations and engagement Facebook wants to promote
  • With bots, brands can use Facebook for transactions. It’s the opportunity to make much more out of the hard-to-reach audience rather than hoping for a like under a public post.

Who else is a winner?

  • Vertically integrated brands: they are probably able to still spark meaningful conversations on Facebook.
  • Videos will become longer and more of them will be live. Live video creates 6x more engagement and creates the conversations Facebook wants
  • “Paid social” marketers now have the assurance that social is always „paid social“ and not „social“ or „content marketing“ marketers get more responsibility and likely more budget.

Ready for take-off – The ultimate checklist before you launch your chatbot

Every week I talk to some of our customers to prepare for the launch of  their chatbot. It is part of Spectrm’s service to check the most important aspects of launching chatbots, and it’s my job to help make it successful from the very beginning. Here are the most important things chatbot creators need to ask themselves before they launch:

Is the chatbot engaging at first sight?


It is tempting to explain every single aspect of your chatbot, every single possibility and way to interact in the very first message. Don’t do that. What you should do instead is make your audience interested and enable them to give it a try. You can always introduce  all the amazing features you have built later on in the process. When you create your onboarding message, think about how to get the user really interested and curious. You could do it with a simple, actionable question like “So Gavin, are you a nerd for politics?”. If the user clicks no, that’s a great opportunity to showcase other options. What you have done though, is created an interaction from the very get-go. And this is only the start – you will do far more down the line.

Do users know why they should sign up to your chatbot?

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Your users like your content, like your brand and want to engage with you. That’s fantastic. So why should they sign up for your chatbot? For you, it’s a great way to stay in touch with customers and present them with your very best content. What is in it for them? It is really important to make sure they understand the difference to the other ways they find your content: facebook, twitter and website are the most important ones. If you don’t have a concise answer to this question, I have very bad news for you: it’s back to the drawing board of your entire concept. But if you do: make sure your users know about it. Even better: explain the value of your chatbot compared to the medium you are promoting it on.

How will users find your chatbot?

Most platforms for chatbots haven’t quite cracked discovery. You will need to find nifty ways to let users know about it. The most important aspect here is to find ways to make it as easy as possible, the general rule of thumb being: the less clicks you need, the more users will give it a try. The most effective ways to get users to sign to your Facebook messenger for instance are:

  • From your website: the “send to messenger button”
  • From your Facebook page: the cover image
  • From the timeline: the “message”-post format

Make sure to think this through. There is no point in having a chatbot if no one knows about it. And I can’t say this often enough: just because you have one, doesn’t mean that users will magically sign up. If you you need a little more guidance, read this.

Have you prepared for the “meaning of life” questions?

It’s a great start to create automated responses to questions that you know your users are currently asking your social media team. However: we have found that users absolutely LOVE to try and trick the chatbot and find the hidden “Easter-eggs”. For some reason users are asking the Spectrm chatbot how old she is. Others have experienced that users ask for the meaning of life and other questions that are not related to their company. This is exactly the reason why you should present  at least a few questions and answers from the beginning. hecking down the line what your users are writing, you will be surprised. If they are trying to test the chatbot, and are pleasantly surprised, that’s exactly the kind of positive experiences that are unique to chatbots. They are memorable and shareable: that’s what you want.


Can users opt-out of your chatbot?

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I know you don’t like to think about this as you are currently ecstatic about your launch and are strategizing on how to get to the first million users. There’s a practical reason you want to make it easy to opt-out though: users can just block you if they don’t want your content anymore . And whilst no one except Mark Zuckerberg himself knows exactly what happens a lot of users block a chatbot, from a technical point of view, we are pretty sure that is not a good thing.

There’s another reason though: spamming people is bad. Only idiots do that, and you are not an idiot. If some people don’t like your chatbot, that is absolutely fine, so let them go. There’s no reason to try and lock them in if they don’t like it. Focus on improving the experience for the users that do. In some cases a user will hastily opt-out, maybe because you sent them a little too much content at once. If you have done a good job before, the user will at some point check back, so you will want to ask yourself…

Can they easily opt back in?

It is quite common that users get used to your chatbot’s daily digest, morning briefing, or whatever format you are using to distribute. If a user checks back to the chat-window – what do they see? Is it a “k bye” kind of message? It should probably be something like: “Sorry to see you go. We would love to hear your feedback on how we can improve and if you change your mind, you can sign back up by clicking the button below.” If the user has received a positive message like this, it is much more likely that she will want to interact with the bot again in future


Needless to say, none of this will work in the long-run if you haven’t created a great chatbot in the first place. But if you have, I hope this gets you on the road to success. Chatbots are a completely new field to most people, so there is more than enough room to experiment, iterate and improve.

7 clever ideas to launch a chatbot campaign on social media

You’ve launched your bot. Well done! Now how do you get people to interact with it enough to prove its value and get the word-of-mouth rolling? More specifically – how do you market it?

You’ve launched your bot. Well done! Now how do you get people to interact with it enough to prove its value and get the word-of-mouth rolling? More specifically – how do you market it?

Bots! Bots! Bots! – but why?

Let’s take a look at the environment today. In 2012, 63.1% of internet users were also social network users and these figures are expected to grow. That is a fact that most brands are (should!) be aware of. However, broken experiences still move people from social to websites, and from websites to emails. As well as making the customer journey long and tiresome, this also serves to make brand seem unapproachable – especially if we’re talking about customer service.

Social media is defined by content – however, with the latest updates to the Facebook algorithm, about 2% of your audience will get to see the content you so tirelessly worked on. No matter how good your content is, not all blogs or videos get to become viral – especially if your audience is small to begin with. And yes, that is even if they liked your page.

In addition, with 3 million apps available, smartphone users spend about 80 percent of their time on just five apps – notably Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat. Meaning that if your next plan was to create an app and hope that users install it, unless you pose a threat to one of the five, then your investment might as well go somewhere else.

So what is your best alternative for getting your content out to the audience that matters and is interested in what you have to say?

Facebook is now giving you the option with Messenger Bots. If your fans interact with your bot or subscribe to what your bot is sending, you will be able to send them personalized messages that can advance your relationship. For brands that means the dual-benefit that content goes in front of the right, interested eyes – while the same time furnishing audience insights. Fans are actually telling you what they want to read about!

“If you want to get people to download an app now and turn on push notifications, good luck. We have app and notifications overload, so the ability to build that experience in Messenger and reach your customer base and manage the whole lifecycle is a very powerful thing,” explained Facebook VP of messaging products David Marcus.


“If you want to get people to download an app now and turn on push notifications, good luck.”

– David Marcus, Facebook VP of messaging products

You are probably already experiencing bots published by online media. I myself get a curated message from both the Techcrunch and Business Insider bots.

Jan-02-2017 16-38-00.gifBeing able to personalize my requests by adding different keywords, I now get such tailored-made content that I am looking forward to their message every day. And this is the exact feeling you want your audience to experience. When was the last time someone said that about any brand’s Facebook posts or emails? The exceptions are increasingly rare, as there is an overflow of newsletters and posts, all probably filled with relevant content. However, with limited time in a day, and a packed inbox or Facebook feed, it’s hard to filter.

But good bots can do that for you, on a much limited investment than an app, and with a higher degree of efficiency since people opt in to your updates.

3 qualities of a good chatbot

  1. Useful – probably the most important thing to consider. Making bots for the sake of saying you have a bot is the wrong approach. Your bot should solve a problem for your audience, or it should add to the overall experience they have with your brand.
  2. Easy to use – while bots may still be in an incipient stage, the interaction flow should be intuitive. Start from the premise that users will not spend more than a few seconds trying to figure out how your bot works. Make it clear, drop clues and hints and most importantly test it out on several people.
  3. Reinforce your brand’s personality – no matter what type of bot your are using, the conversation should reflect the brand voice. If your bot is a separate endeavour, such as Poncho, then make sure to bring some life into it by creating a persona.

The value of chatbots for consumers

It’s all about exclusive, highly personalized experiences users can get – anything in the form of exclusive content, competitions, timely and 24/7 customer support and many others. For example, Pizza Express tested the potential of a chatbot with a bit of fun over the holidays. The famous pizza chain created the bot-based game Shake The Tree, in which visitors to their restaurants scan Facebook Messenger codes placed on tables, play the game and get the chance to win prizes including free pizzas and Dough Balls. The game proved to be a success bringing in 75,000 players in the first two weeks and is expected to reach 100,000 by end of week three (or around 7% of Pizza Express’s customers). .

A bot with a similar purpose but without the viral appeal of a high-stakes competition is Trim, a financial advisor bot that helps people with their tasks.

Trim owners claim that the by reminding users of their subscription fees, Trim has saved them over $6,000,000.


How do you actually bring the chatbot to the masses?

1. Bot-centered campaigns: One of the first things you can consider is simply making a post notifying the audience about your new development. However, to better reach your intended market, you can consider boosting the post or creating an ad targeted to specific audiences most likely to use your bot. Specialized tools can help you create these very specific targeting options. Be sure to highlight why people should interact with your bot (consider the exclusive content mentioned before – for example, why not think of a quiz?).

2. Conversation-centered posts: With new CTAs for posts, you can also create Facebook posts and campaigns tailored to starting conversations.15870447_1229583027121349_1682521537_n.png

3. Facebook has also recently added new CTA buttons for Company pages. The “Contact Us” CTA can indicate to your fans that you are ready to start a conversation.
4. Used in a creative way your cover picture can also turn into a CTA. By adding a marking signal pointing to your actual CTA button, or simply using the photo to showcase the bot can be powerful ways to get some much-needed awareness.

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5. Use the Messenger QR-code as profile picture with link in the description to draw attention to your presence on messenger

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6. Embed Messenger buttons, provided by Facebook, into your website to enable anyone who clicks them to start a Messenger conversation with your company (like the one you see below this post). 
7. Use customer matching by reaching people in Messenger via their phone number. Conversations started in this manner will be received as message requests by fans and the dialogue can only continue with the person’s consent.

That bots will be big in 2017 and beyond is fact not supposition. More and more brands are queueing up to use bots in new and creative ways. There has never been a better time to put your brand on the map with the help of chatbots. Want to get a better understanding of how bots can help your business? Or do you have a creative idea ready to take Messenger by storm? Then contact Spectrm.


Boost chatbot engagement by learning-from Alexa and Siri

At its F8 conference this year, Facebook made it clear it’s betting big on Messenger chatbots. With 1.71 billion monthly active users and more than 18,000 bots reported to date, Messenger could turn into a goldmine for Facebook if monetization enters the mix. Indeed, chat apps look set to be the next big thing in marketing due to their 1:1 conversational model, mobile-first design and potential for handling the bulk of customer interactions – but we’re not there just yet. may be the next big thing, but being a first-mover comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. As a customer-facing technology, the risks of alienating audiences are high. Nevertheless, there are already some success stories that we can mention. Boarding passes from KLM, weather reports from Poncho and updates from Business Insider are already available in Messenger. I for one receive my daily dose of tech news from the TechCrunch chatbot every morning at 5:43 AM.

The pitfalls of trail-blazing

The early days of Snapchat and Instagram demonstrated how difficult it can be for early adopters to find the right strategy with untested new channels. Nevertheless, being among the first to find the right mix can lead to significant traction and high rewards. It’s up to each brand to choose whether to risk being among the first-movers, or wait to learn their lessons.

The good news with bots is that marketers already have Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa as examples of how to integrate them into the customer journey. These virtual assistants were the first to mainstream the use of artificial intelligence to create conversational experiences between people and machines. Marketers need look no further for some solid inspiration.

To bot or not to bot, and how much?

With sparkly new channels there is always the temptation to ply audiences with as much content as possible. However, with Facebook Messenger this mistake could prove not only costly, it could seriously damage the brand-consumer relationship. Direct messaging has traditionally been a more intimate line of communication between friends and acquaintances – chatbot overkill would directly contravene this convention/point of etiquette.

Can you imagine your Siri telling you it might be time to upgrade your software? Or Alexa asking you out of the blue whether you would like to buy a book from Amazon? If brands become a chatty nuisance they’ll be quickly blocked or unfollowed.

Alexa is a good example of a bot with real user value. Consumers enjoy and use it for a host of applications such as playing music, asking for news updates and managing devices.

Brands need to establish a clear chatbot value for their customers, then ease into sending messages with fingers poised over the ‘stop’ button. Facebook appears to be doing this right by making sure that the user is in control. In a recent blog post, Product Manager Seth Rosenberg wrote: “All conversations between businesses and people must be initiated by the person receiving the messages (unless otherwise subscribed to), who can then mute or block the business at any time.”


This may beg the question, how do we get people to initiate conversations with us? But this has been the social marketer’s challenge from the beginning. After all, bots are simply yet another new form of engagement. The big difference being that we can no longer just hope for virality and reach, it’s now on us to inspire fans to start the conversation. The main motivator to do this is still the same as ever: clear value delivered at the right time and place in the customer journey.

Now here comes the kick with Facebook Messenger – say you succeed in convincing users to initiate contact, Facebook has made it clear that its new Messenger API will only allow businesses to send messages to these users for a 24-hour period, and once more after that. This is to ensure enquiries can still get a reply or re-engagement.

Facebook’s move reinforces the key value of chatbots, at least for the moment, as social customer service and support tools rather than ads and content pushers. They represent the ideal solution for brands handling a high volume of repetitive or basic enquiries.

The human touch

Brands may not need to create chatbots on the level of the Scarlett Johansson-voiced ‘Samantha’ in the film ‘Her’ – in which Joaquin Phoenix’s character falls in love with his virtual assistant – but a human element is much more than a nice-to-have.

Siri, Cortana and Alexa can all answer a multitude of questions that have nothing to do with their core service. Have you ever asked Siri what the meaning of life is? Try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Funny interactions foster personal relationships with a brand and also demonstrate that bots can go beyond functionality to be interactive experiences as well.

If a bot’s main response to questions is, “Sorry, I didn’t understand that”, the experience becomes a lot less sticky. A few basic questions can be a start and brands can measure whether they resonate with users. Who knows, maybe your followers actually will fall in love with your bot someday.

The next evolution in one-to-one engagement

With bots, marketers have the opportunity to shape the future rules of interaction and customer expectations. Facebook may still keep a watchful eye, but brands are essentially free to set the tone and pace of the conversation.

In time artificial intelligence may help drive best practice and ensure brands send customers only relevant updates at the right times. But we’re not there yet. Until then it’s largely a question of judgement mixed with the willingness to experiment.

One thing is certain though, chatbots are not only here to stay, their role in customer engagement is set to explode over the next few years. The machines really are taking over. How will your brand fare in bot-world? Whether you want to be a first-mover or follower, the time to lay the groundwork is now.

Apple’s road to chatbots 🍎🤖

All major tech companies already made their bets on chatbots — except Apple. Last weeks WWDC revealed how Apple is stepping into the conversational world. After the shift from web to mobile and apps now the next big change is coming: from apps to chatbots

All major tech companies already made their bets on chatbots — except Apple. Last weeks WWDC revealed how Apple is stepping into the conversational world. After the shift from web to mobile and apps now the next big change is coming: from apps to chatbots 🤖.

That is the narrative most big tech companies agree on.

Therefore they invested massively in this field and build products for it.

  • Facebook — announced the business on Messenger platform in 2016 and already has over 100k chatbots on the platform
  • Microsoft — implements „Cortana“ in nearly all their products, launched chatbots for Skype and provides developers with a sophisticated development kit for chatbots
  • Amazon — is leading the market with the home speaker Echo and the assistant Alexa and allows developers to create app-like skills for that new platform
  • Google — launched their assistant, a home speaker to go with it and offers the developer tool and much more

So what about Apple?

Apple launched Siri together with the iPhone 4s on October 4th 2011, the day before Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs passed away. That was long before everybody else rushed towards the conversational world and yet another testimony of Apple’s technological leadership.

But Siri never lived up to the expectations created by the shiny advertisements. To the contrary: Siri never got remarkably better and instead showed more and more “siri-ous” problems.

Given that track record, it’s even more exciting how the world’s biggest technology company is now changing its strategy.

Despite the fact that Apple is more or less the inventor of well orchestrated developer conferences with stunning product announcements and massive media coverage, chatbots were not mentioned in the keynote at all.

But after the keynote their road to chatbots became quite clear.

iMessage for Business

Apple now enables businesses to communicate directly with the over 700 million iPhone users.


The screenshots Apple released show an iMessage user communicating with Apple to buy an iPad (of course he does), which looks just like the chat with friends. Given the fact that iOs is (so far) the operating system generating most revenues for its developers, it’s likely that businesses on iMessage are hoping for the same outcome.

In the preview iMessage for Business starts with customer service and an almost human to agent (human) approach, but we will see here chatbots for many more use cases in the very near future.

With the natively integrated ApplePay that is a big deal for all transactional use cases.


The HomePod was in the keynote. A 300$ wireless speaker with Siri living inside.

Apple emphasizes the quality of the speaker and its primary use case to listen to music. Better sound than Amazon Echo and Google Home, yet smarter than a Sonos 3. Although Apple tried really hard to avoid the direct comparison of Siri and Alexa — that’s what it’s all about. A wireless speaker with Apple Music and Siri doesn’t need an A8 chip. Most likely we will see third parties in an Alexa like ecosystem. Given the experience that Apple has in building ecosystems and the current growth of smart speaker — these are fantastic news for voicebot/chatbot developer

Apple was an early mover in the conversational world, but then lost focus.
It looks like Apple found it’s road to chatbots and is catching up quickly.

The experts view — How to optimize Facebook Messenger conversations

The Facebook Messenger offers a lot of features. How to choose the best one to engage users in every single interaction?

As a chatbot creator, you have to choose the right feature for each interaction so that users will not get lost in too many options displayed. This article takes a closer look at some features by comparing their genuine qualities and technical limitations. If you are able to make best use of the qualities and see boundaries as a challenge you are ready to take up, you will be able to choose the best feature for every single interaction.

Content Display and Interaction

Before going into detail, let’s take a look at what we are dealing with. You will have to make some preliminary conceptual decisions before deciding on specific features, too.
Horizontal-scroll and list template are elements for content display. To chose correctly you need to define the main purpose of your bot. There are two possible goals: you either aim at a great display of content, followed by a nice interaction that converts to your website. Or the entertaining and meaningful interactions and conversation you created leave a happy and engaged user who you hope will return. Clarity on your intent helps your decisions on how to display your content best. It also influences your choice of interactions, be it due to technical reasons.
Don’t just think of where a conversation leads. Consider who starts the conversation and with what intent. Do you want to engage a user by sending the first message, displaying content and providing actionable buttons? Do users write the first message, turning to your chatbot for entertainment or in the urgent need of assistance?
These opposite directions and different intentions influence your choice of features, both for content display and interactions.

This article provides insights on bot-user-interactions such as buttons and quick replies. Interactions like these always define the link between single messages. For every new message and next link, you will have to choose, again. The right choice leads to happy users. They will engage in every new interaction you offer, thus use your chatbot a lot and/or follow links to external websites.

Two ways of visual content display: horizontal scroll or list template

The horizontal scroll or ‘h-scroll’

If chosen wrong or edited poorly, an h-scroll bares an overload of information that discourages users. Used in the right context and designed according to its benefits as well as the user’s needs, it is a great feature for storytelling.
An h-scroll consists of several structured messages in a row. Structured messages are message bubbles containing text and up to three buttons for interactions below. Image, title and subtitle can be added. Up to ten bubbles with up to three buttons per bubble let you display a lot of information in media and text. The buttons provide a number of choices: further interactions within the chatbot or a conversion to the website.
Because there is no overview at first glance, the user has to interact to see all bubbles.

Its benefits can also be a downside: h-scrolls can be too packed with content and options if poorly concepted. This can easily happen when the h-scroll is used in a conservative way: giving an overview on five similar news-articles or several products to buy, using interchangeable buttons in every bubble. It imitates a menu by giving choices that in a web-interface would be displayed as a menu bar. This is obviously a bad user experience, not making any use of the chatbots qualities as a channel.
So should you simply cut down on the number of bubbles and buttons? No. Instead take advantage of the h-scroll’s unique benefits. Doing so, more bubbles are not only okay, but desired and enjoyed by your user. The unique quality the h-scroll provides is its horizontal line of storytelling. It resembles the way people read in western countries, from left to right. Use this habit: put cartoons into the bubbles as a narrative, split one image into three or more to create a panorama view, tell a story!

The h-scroll is also perfect for step-by-step tutorials and advertising. Users attracted by the first bubble are very likely to scroll to the others. They will then choose from the several options the different bubbles and buttons provide to either leave the chatbot and visit your website or continue the experience in the next conversation.
You have already seen examples for this creative use in facebook carousel ads.

Use the h-scroll when starting a conversation if you intend to present something in wider scope and if you want to provide several directions to continue the conversation.

The List Template

If you want quick overviews and easy selections, the list template is your weapon of choice. You will have to meet its limitations in content display compared to the h-scroll, though: The list template lets you display up to four items vertically. Each item contains 160 characters of text an image and one button. You can display one item prominently with a cover image and up to three smaller items below. You may even add a different kind of interaction to the cover item’s button than to those of the others. If you do not intend to highlight one of your items, just display up to four items in the same size. These item’s buttons are likely to cause similar interactions, for example allowing a choice between the items.
Additional to those buttons you can provide another one for the whole list template, below the items. It can lead to a different conversation or action.
The list template displays all information at a glance. No further interaction is needed for a complete overview.

Its limited characters can sometimes be a hindrance. You can not display or explain as much as with an h-scroll. So take up the challenge to create concise text combined with significant pictures that add up to and enhance each other in meaning.

The choices users have in the list template are limited, compared to the several buttons provided in an h-scroll. This makes the list template a fit for quick decisions. Think of selecting the colour of an item to buy or the decision between the top news and three further topics in a news channel. The button below could link to other conversations, e.g. other products or different news topics.

Use the list template if you want the conversations to be speedy. If users turn to the chatbot with a need, it is your shortcut to serving that need. The faster users get to their goal, the happier they are. So the list template can be the suiting reaction to a question or other initiative by users that calls for multiple pieces of content. If asked or asking for specific content, determined sets of answers are helpful. Fewer, but lean options make it easy for users to choose fast. The results — next messages and interactions — follow up immediately.

Button Interactions

Why display content in the first place? You want users to take actions. Whether h-scroll, list template or a plain text-, media-, or structured-message: two ways to define the interaction between those messages are buttons and quick replies. They are your alternative to the complex use of Natural Language Processing. So after choosing the way of displaying your content, you will now learn how to find the best feature to make your user interact by comparing button-interactions.

Buttons as well as quick replies are an actionable and fast way of interacting. Well chosen, they are helpful in making quick decisions and engage the user to play back and forth in a smooth dialogue. Each feature has it’s own benefits and limitations.


Combined with the wrong message or linking to confusing interactions, buttons will not be appreciated by your users. Learn what they can and can’t do and use them accordingly to script an interaction that feels natural.
Buttons trigger an interaction at the end of a structured message. This type of message contains up to three buttons, each linking to one interaction, e.g. the next message or a new conversation, subscribing or unsubscribing users, allowing user feedback, or containing an external URL. Each button consists of text describing its command and can be funnier with emojis, if that suits your chatbot.
Like the h-scroll, if used wrong, buttons can offer either too many different or boring repetitive choices. Several bubbles with different pictures but the same button-interactions below can be boring (how about using the list template instead?). Eight bubbles with eight times three buttons to choose from make users forget the first options while still browsing. Leaving all choices to the user is not a benefit, but a pain. A bot creator has to figure out the right preset of choices in every interaction. Better use three different interactions narrowing down the choices step by step than offering one with too many options and directions to choose from.
Also decide if you want the user to continue with the bot conversation or rather link to an external website.

Buttons and the different actions and several directions can widen the scope of a conversation. It may not always speed up, but users will enjoy their freedom of choices. With every click they make a decision towards further conversation or following a link out of your chatbot. Once made, this choice does not disappear, the button(s) can always be found in the conversation, right under the structured message they are part of. Users can return to this message and undo their choice by clicking a different button.
This distinguishes them from another class of buttons:

Quick Replies

Quick replies can put your conversation on the fast lane. Their technical limitations do not allow reconsidering, so you have to choose wisely. Here is how: Quick replies are buttons prominently displayed above the composer, containing text, and emoji if suiting. They follow messages of plain text and/or media. Quick replies are perfect when asking for choices on up to five items. Users will less likely use the keyboard but just tap one of the quick reply buttons provided. Imagine a message asking for your favourite flavour in ice cream. If you then offer a quick reply with five choices, the user can easily tap on ‘strawberry’. Typing this word into the text field takes at least ten taps.

Once tapped, the buttons are no longer displayed. Users thus can not tap on old buttons unrelated to the last message they received. But there is no way back in the decision tree. This downside in using quick replies can also be seen as their benefit. ‘Burning bridges’ will automatically speed up the conversation. There is only one direction to go: fast forward. Use cases are comparable to the list view’s: providing quick selections if users ask for content. Users will then be grateful if you present them with 2 to 5 actionable quick reply-buttons to tap instead of to much info and many buttons in a structured message. The work you do in templating these choices suiting the user’s request will be appreciated. They make a chat meaningful and fun by leading to results. Even when using buttons, the conversation feels natural, with no delays or misunderstandings.

Quick replies are also a great way to grab user data. You can only use quick replies within the chatbot, they can not contain external links. So if you aim at linking to an external website, you will at some point have to switch to a button-interaction.

Mix it!

The choice on a feature made for an interaction is only valid for this one link. The next link to the next message means yet another decision. Choosing one feature for the first content display and interaction does not mean that it suits the next: you will have to reconsider. What sounds like a lot of conceptual work is actually a blessing: mixing features, thus ways of content display and interactions is what makes a meaningful chatbot conversation, because it addresses the users needs.

Push a message, mixing h-scrolls and buttons for broader scope in the beginning and then start narrowing down choices, collect user data and speed up the conversation using more list templates as well as messages with quick replies towards the end. Users enjoy your storytelling and several choices in the beginning while still being led to a result in the end, be that an entertaining chat or the visit of your website. If offering or asked for quick results, mix list templates and messages with quick replies. If needed at the end, use buttons for their benefit of linking externally when the list template and it’s limited buttons are not suited. There is unlimited ways of recombination. Choose the ones suiting your purpose best. Keep in mind the main outcome you aim at as well as your goal in every single message.

Be creative with the choices you have!